I once (or twice) heard my husband say "If you think your going to get free massage all-the-time when you marry a massage therapist, you're wrong". That statement made me realize how much I'm slacking, though it illuminates a common problem among partners. Many of us don't prioritize time to nurture each other (or ourselves) enough in the home environment. And the kicker is, massage at home is free, it cultivates bonding, and it feels so good! Since the husband comment, I've brought to the (home massage) table five easy ways to incorporate healing touch rituals in our daily life; here are five tips to get you started.
TAKE FIVE: SELF MASSAGE
This can happen at home, in the car, at the desk/office, on a plane, on a train, in-line at Sweet Peaks, and the list is endless!
If in a place that allows: a comfortable seat, turning off the phone, and taking a break from the buzz of life...do all of the above!
Do This Now:
Take a few deep breaths. Relax the shoulders. Relax the forehead, around the ears, and the face muscles. It is amazing to notice how tense we hold ourselves in those areas once making a conscious effort to relax each area.
Now, do some neck rolls. Drop your chin towards the chest. Roll the head to the left shoulder, then back to center, then to the right shoulder. Bring the head back to center and lift head again. Bring one hand up to the back of your neck and place on the base of the neck above the shoulders (top of thoracic and bottom of cervical). Squeeze the neck with that hand, with firm pressure and working your way up to where your head meets the neck. This is a kneading and squeezing motion that helps to relax the muscle and stimulate circulation. Then with both hands, reach back to the base of the skull (occipital bones), and use your finger tips to massage the lower scalp muscles where they meet the neck. You can use a firm pressure and work in a circular motion. Work up the scalp through the hair to massage the whole head. To finish gently pull on the hair working your fingers out through the hair. This is a great technique that can be done in three to five minutes and works wonders to prevent tension headaches. It also helps to bring circulation back to the area and could increase your productivity and mental wellness.
MASSAGE YOUR PARTNER
Giving and receiving massage at home can be easy once you learn a few basic tips to provide effective treatment, and eek out time for each other! Over the years, I've heard several clients comment that they wish they knew how to massage their partner in a way that can help them, to provide more relief from pain patterns. Common issues people have with massage at home is: they run out of ideas for techniques to use, their hands get tired or painful after a short time, and they can't work deep enough to really get those problem areas, and more. At Peak Health Massage, we offer a two-hour couples massage class for those that want to learn how to give a great + effective massage at home (learn more here).
For now, get into the groove of nurturing each other with these easy steps: If there are children or needy animals in the house, send them away (use a nap-time, bed-time, or other time that they are not in the house). Turn phone ringers off. Turn on Pandora to "Ambient Spa" or "Meditation Radio", something relaxing. The recipient can lay-down on the floor with pillow supports, or on a firm mattress. The most ideal is a home-use massage table, but it's not necessary. You can massage over-the-clothes, or the recipient can disrobe for the areas that they want massaged. Cover the surface they are laying on with a towel or sheet that you don't mind getting oily. Some house-hold oils can be used, such as olive oil or coconut oil. Other carrier oils such as almond or sunflower seed oils are nice for massage, if you have them. Start the massage by placing a dime-sized amount of oil in the palm of the hand. Do not over-oil, too much oil will create too much glide and working deeply will be harder to do. Rub the oil in the palms of the hands and place the hands on the back. Use long massage strokes starting at the top of the shoulders and work down to the hips, pressing firmly on either side of the spine. Do not massage directly on the spine, make sure you are massaging the muscle tissue. Keep the hands relaxed and knead the muscles with the finder tips...similar to bread-dough. Sounds funny, but it works. You can use the fists and apply more pressure from your body-weight in areas that need deeper work. Massage and knead common tension areas, such as the shoulders, scalp, hands / fingers, and feet. Ask your partner how it feels and if they would like less or more pressure. Remember to use body weight to massage, rather than exerting all the energy through the thumb and hand muscles. You can still use the thumbs and fingers to massage those trigger point areas, but if using body weight behind those digits, you will be able to massage for longer and with no pain. Switch off, and both of you can receive massage therapy. You can still experience the benefits of massage therapy at home without a pro! For more detailed instruction on how to give your loved-ones massage, sign-up for the "Best Date Night in Kalispell, Couples Massage Class". We offer partner massage classes in our clinic, one Saturday every month.
CONNECT WITH FUR BABIES
Ok, so they can't give us massage on demand, but we can give them massage! And studies have shown that our happy hormones spike, anxiety decreases, and effects of stress diminish just by patting and connecting with dogs and cats. Also, if you have these four-leggeds in your life, you know that they take-on energy from humans and absorb our emotions and feelings. Massaging our furry beasts can help both us and them. Make a little spa time for your pup by kneading their muscles around the neck and on either sides of the spine. Use a firm but gentle pressure on the muscles. Avoid massaging directly on the spine or on other bones. Work the areas that our animals have issues. For example, if they have hip problems their low back and butt or hip muscles will hold tension, and a little extra muscle work in those spots will feel incredibly good to an animal. Be aware of how your furry-friend is reacting to the touch, they will tell you to stop or keep going.
WELCOMING HOME WITH TOUCH
What's your general greeting when your partner arrives home at the end of the day? In our house it often sounds like this when we walk through the door: "you won't believe the diaper I just changed, did you have a plan for dinner, did you pick up dog food". These types of greetings aren't exactly stress-reducing or nurturing when returning home to what's supposed to be your comfort-zone, safe-place. Let's try one simple loving touch technique that takes minutes and is proven to set a good mood for you and your partner after a day-away.
He or she enters the house. "Hi how are you?" immediately place your hands on their shoulders and squeeze, give a little shoulder massage. You will feel a sigh of relief from the recipient, they will likely say "that feels good". An immediate relax and let-go will occur and we are welcomed with loving massage, setting a positive mood. You can also greet by holding the hand and massaging the hand and forearm while talking about the day, and listening to each other. The massage helps us to be present in the moment with the people we love.
EVERYONE LOVES MASSAGE CIRCLES
Massage circles are great way to bond with friends and family at home. It teaches children of all ages about healthy touch, and it creates a loving and healing ritual that feels great. Take some time after dinner to unwind with a massage circle. Instead of TV or devices before bed, gather around on the floor, sit in a circle (or as best of a circle as you can), and massage each other's shoulders. You can also sit face-to-face with one other person and take turns massaging each others hands and forearms. It feels so good, and could become a healthy + lasting family ritual!
There are many ways to incorporate massage at home, being creative with prioritizing time is the biggest hurdle. But in the end, it is so worth the commitment to each other, and you will never regret taking the time for massage!